Awarded Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury
The large number of reported victims of child maltreatment, combined with the general consensus that actual numbers of victims far exceed available figures, highlights the critical need for effective primary prevention programs that can be implemented across diverse communities. In response to this need, the proposed project will evaluate the effectiveness of the Adults and Children Together Against Violence Parents Raising Safe Kids program as an economical primary prevention intervention for child maltreatment. Developed by the American Psychological Association (APA), in collaboration with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “the ACT program” has two overarching goals: (1) to make early violence prevention a central and ongoing part of the community; and (2) to educate adults about their role in creating healthy and safe environments for children. Like the majority of child violence prevention programs, the ACT program targets parents. However, ACT is unique in its universal approach to prevention and its ability to be implemented in diverse settings and integrated into the broader community framework of services for parents, regardless of their level of risk. The program is designed to be delivered in 8 sessions; content includes understanding child behavior, children and violence, conflict resolution, and positive parenting. University of North Carolina at Charlotte researchers will work with APA and community service sites in Chicago, IL; Newport News, VA; and Milwaukee, WI to evaluate the ACT program. Using an experimental design with random assignment to groups, this study will examine program impact on participating parents’ (n=125) knowledge, behavior, and attitudes compared to a control group (n=125) of parents. More specifically, the project will address the following research questions: Does participation in the ACT program increase positive parenting skills, partner conflict management skills, and/or use of supportive networks?; Does the ACT program decrease parenting stress?; Do characteristics of service provision (i.e., whether ACT is offered in combination with Head Start vs. other community-based support services) impact program outcomes?; and Do the demographic characteristics of participants impact program outcomes? It is hypothesized that the ACT program will produce positive outcomes in each of the target areas and benefit all participants equally across all program delivery formats.